Get this developmental GIFT GUIDE for toys that your 5 yr old is going to love that are kid, Occupational Therapist, and mom approved!
Shopping for a 5 year old can be tricky! Let alone shifting through the enormous number of toys available!
And let’s be honest, most 5 year olds think they want almost everything!
I can’t tell you how many lists of gift ideas my 5 year old has written already! Every time a new commercial comes on or a new toy magazine gets delivered, they have a marker in hand and quickly adding this new must have toy frantically!
Being a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I love when my kids can play with a toy that:
- Entertains them
- Builds a skill
- Doesn’t have a million pieces (total bonus but not always avoidable!)
But as a parent, I really want my kids to play with toys over and over again. Nothing is more annoying than seeing toys they “had to have” quickly pushed to the side and forgotten…… that is until you try to donate them.
Why Pick a Developmental Gift?
It’s simple. Kids love to play.
And playing is the BEST way for a kiddo to learn and practice a skill. Have you ever seen the pride in a kiddo’s face when then accomplish a skill that was hard? It’s pure Joy.
Now I am not saying that EVERY SINGLE toy your 5 year old plays with has to be developmental.
But 9 out of 10 times, these are the toys that get played with over and over again.
The Gift Guide Your 5 Year Old Wants You To Read!
This gift guide is broken down into 4 sections:
Each gift breaks down on some of the things that it can work on!
Not sure what something means in the “What It Works On” Section? Jump to the bottom of the post for definitions.
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STEM Gift Guide
Stem activities combine Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They are great for stimulating curiosity, resilience, problem solving, and much more!
What I love about Stem activities is that they are open ended. Kids can play with them in multiple different ways!
What It Works On: Following Multi-step Directions if building from the book, Eye Hand Coordination, Bilateral Coordination and Problem Solving
Why Kids LOVE It: The Building opportunities are endless! It Comes with Step-By-Step instructions for guided building. If you get 2 sets the remote controls only control one GearBot
What It Works On: Following Multi-step Directions, Problem Solving, Visual Motor Skills, Eye Hand Coordination, Finger Strengthening
Why Kids LOVE It: Instant gratification when they complete the circuit correctly!
# 3. Box and Balls
What It Works On: Eye-hand Coordination, Graded Movement, Problem Solving, Resilience, Imagination, Problem Solving
Why Kids LOVE It: Bouncing a ball over obstacles and get it in a box is Super Exciting and Satisfying!
What It Works On: Fine Motor skills, Eye Hand Coordination, Predicting Outcomes, Following Step-by-Step Directions
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids love doing experiments and seeing something change in front of their eyes. This set also has written explanations to help explain what is actually happening!
# 5. Brain Builders
What It Works On: Visual Discrimination, Visual Motor, Pincer Grasp, Graded Movement, Eye Hand Coordination, Problem Solving, Resilience, Imagination
Why Kids LOVE It: The plank pieces are easy to manipulate and the challenges are highly motivating. Also Kids really like building in 3 dimensions.
Fine Motor Development Gift Guide Ideas
Fine motor development is a huge skill that 5 year olds are working on for everyday activities: dressing, writing, cutting, small object manipulation and much more.
Within developing their fine motor skills, they are working on hand strengthening, moving their fingers dynamically, and increasing their accuracy.
What It Works On: Pincer Grasp, Bilateral Coordination, Finger Strengthening, Figure Ground, Eye Hand Coordination, Problem Solving
Why Kids LOVE It: They are fun to manipulate the small pieces into whatever their imagination, or the booklet of ideas, sets to.
# 2. Kid’s Tool Bag
What It Works On: Hand strengthening, In-hand Manipulation, Eye hand Coordination, Impulse control
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids love working with tools that look real. This is great for deconstructing broken electronics!
# 3. Dino Digs
What It Works On: Pencil Grasp, Finger Strengthening, In-hand Manipulation, Resilience, Bilateral Coordination
Why Kids LOVE It: Each egg has a surprise in it. This particular set has dinosaurs but other sets have Dogs, Unicorns, Mermaids, Gems, Outer Space, Fairies, Wild Animals, Sea Creatures and more!
# 4. Modeling Clay
What It Works On: Hand strengthening, bilateral coordination, imagination, problem solving
Why Kids LOVE It: The clay is not too hard to work with with encourages Kids to play with it longer! This is a great activity for a group of kids varying in age!
# 5. Scratch Art
What It Works On: Pencil Grasp, Increasing pressure when writing, Finger Strengthening, Bilateral Control
Why Kids LOVE It: Scratching the black to reveal a color is visually satisfying to the budding artists! This set also includes stencils which helps kiddos add details to their pictures!
What It Works On: Hand Strengthening, Bilateral Coordination, Pincer Grasp, In-hand Manipulation, Problem Solving, Visual Attention
Why Kids LOVE It: Working with tools to build something is exciting. And then getting to play with it when you are done is an added bonus!
What It Works On: In-hand Manipulation, Tripod Grasp
Why Kids Love It: Kids love watching the crayon move up and down as they twist it. Help prevent the crayons from being twisted too high and breaking by showing your Kiddo the “just right height”.
# 8. Legos
What It Works On: Pincer Grasp, Tripod Grasp, Finger strengthening, Visual Motor, Eye Hand Coordination, Figure Ground, Following step by step directions, Imagination
Why Kids LOVE It: Watching Lego Bricks turn into something is exciting and gratifying! And the Lego sets offered today are pretty impressive for both boys and girls!
Best Board and Card Games Gift Guide
Board Games and card games are great ways to build developmental skills with Kids.
The BEST part is that they usually don’t even realize what they are working on!
These games are perfect for Family Game night, a rainy afternoon, or just because!
# 1. Silly Street
What It Works On: Communication skills, Motor Planning, Visual Motor, Counting Skills, Creativity, Confidence, Turn Taking, Grit
Why Kids LOVE It: A broad range of kids can play it at the same time, you can be goofy
# 2. Out Foxed
What It Works On: Graded Movement, Creating Strategies, Visual Motor, Team Work, In-hand Manipulation skills, Tripod Grasp
Why Kids Love It: Kids love trying to figure out who the suspects are!
# 3. Guess Who
What It Works On: Visual Discrimination, Scanning, Communication, Pincer Grasp, Turn Taking
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids love flipping faces down as they try to figure out who their opponents person is!
# 4. Uno
What It Works On: In-hand Manipulation skills, Turn Taking, Visual Discrimination
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids love picking up and putting down their cards!
# 5. Stirdy Birdy
What It Works On: Balance, Coordination, Graded Movement, Core Strengthening, Counting Skills
Why Kids LOVE It: The poses are silly and kids love using the colorful pillows.
# 5. Qwirkle Cubes
What It Works On: Visual Discrimination, Visual Scanning, Tripod Grasp, Problem Solving, Counting Skills, Turn Taking
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids love making matches and seeing many points they score! Scoring can get tricky but you can keep it simple and still have fun!
# 6. The Floor is Lava
What It Works On: Color Discrimination, Figure Ground, Gross Motor, Imagination, Turn Taking, Resilience
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids Love pretending that the floor is molten lava and excitedly jump from piece to piece!
Outdoor Gross Motor Activities Gift Guide
Outdoor Gross Motor Activities are a great way to burn some extra energy while building a skill!
5 year olds are working on improving their balance for riding bikes, kicking balls harder and farther, throwing, catching, and overall strengthening.
# 1. Stomp Rocket
What It Works On: Eye Hand Coordination, Visual Scanning, Jumping, Stomping, Strengthening
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids love watching the rocket shoot into the sky! Aim the launcher down and try to launch the rocket into a specific area!
# 2. Scooter
What It Works On: Balance, Bilateral Coordination, Visual Attention, Core Strengthening, Leg Strengthening
Why Kids Love It: Kids love being on the move! If your 5 year old has trouble with balancing, then the 3 wheeled scooter might work better for them.
# 3. Kite
What It Works On: Bilateral Coordination, Strengthening, Motor Planning
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids Love watching the Kite fly in the sky! Don’t wait for the perfect windy day. Let out a little string and “make” the wind by running with it!
# 4. Jump Rope
What It Works On: Strengthening, Motor Planning, Cardio, Resilience
Why Kids LOVE It: The joy on a kids face when they figure out how to do it is great! But there are also several fun jump rope games for kids.
# 5. Carnival Games
What It Works On: Bilateral Coordination, Strengthening, Visual Motor, Graded Control, Eye Hand Coordination, Creativity, Motor Planning
Why Kids LOVE It: Kids love creating and going through obstacle courses! Or just use the cones and zig-zag around them on a bike!
# 6. Paddle Toss
What It Works On: Visual Motor Integration, Strengthening, Coordination, Motor Planning, Bilateral Coordination
Why Kids LOVE It: The velcro paddles make catching the ball easier so they feel more success!
# 7. Soccer Goals
What It Works On: Kicking or Throwing at a target, Graded Movement, Coordination, Balance, Strengthening
Why Kids LOVE It: Kicking or throwing a ball at a target adds an added challenge and a purpose!
What if my 5 year old doesn’t like playing with the Developmental Gift they received?
I wish I could tell you exactly what toys are going to jive with your kiddo! But I can’t.
I would recommend 2 different approaches to consider.
- Look at the toy and see how you can change how your Kiddo plays with it. Too hard- How can you make it easier? Too long – How can you make it shorter? Not Challenging – How can you make it harder?
- Put the toy away for awhile and bring it out when your Kiddo is a little older.
As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I would start with option 1.
IF after several attempts and your Kiddo now runs the other direction when they see the toy THEN I would shelf it for awhile.
Checkout these Definitions for Skills Identified in “What It Works On“:
- Pincer Grasp – When you grab a small item between your thumb and pointer finger.
- In-hand Manipulation – The ability to move a small object with one hand.
Learn more on how In-hand manipulation skills leads to better fine motor skills.
- Visual Discrimination – Able to identify differences between 2 things
- Bilateral Coordination – Using both sides of your body either the same way or different
- Figure Ground – Locating items among a pile of other items
- Eye Hand Coordination – Controlling eye and hand movement together in order to reach and grasp an item
- Tripod Grasp – Using 3 fingers (thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger) to pick up an object.
Learn more about what a Tripod Grasp is and how we use it.
- Motor Planning – to come up with an idea, plan, and then do it in the correct order
- Graded Movement – The ability to move your muscles in a controlled manner that allows for accuracy
- Visual Motor – To Take a visual image and turn it into an accurate action
Jump Back to the Section of the Gift Guide You Left!
Now that You Have All These Developmental Gift Options, Which One are You Going to Choose?
Make sure to leave in the comments which ones your kids loved or had them running under their bed!
Make sure to save this to your Gift Ideas Board on Pinterest so that you can refer to it in the future!
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Kelly is a licensed Occupational Therapist with 15 years of experience servicing school-aged children and Early Intervention. She is the founder of OT Perspective and a mom to 4 children. To learn more about her, check out her About Me page, here.